Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with new numbers tracking autism in the United States. It showed 1 in 88 children are being diagnosed with the disorder. That means there are over one-million children in this country with autism. A big number that has many wondering why? "There's certainly more children being identified with autism, whether the true prevalence has increased or not, or whether we just didn't have the diagnostic criteria available at that time, is unknown," said Dr. Steve Joyce. And that's why Dr. Steven Joyce at Mercy Medical Center says it may not be necessarily more children with autism, but just that the medical world is better at diagnosing it.
And that's the first step in treatment. Identify the condition, then treat each individual component of the disorder. "Delay in socialization, language and communication, and then some sort of behavior disturbances, and whether those are OCD-like behaviors or what not. So those seem to be the major areas that we look at for autism," said Dr. Joyce. How do you identify those areas of need? "Should be aware of appropriate milestones that your child should be hitting," said Dr. Joyce. If those aren't reached by age 3, talk to your doctor.
The other big autism news lately. An observational study shows women who are obese while pregnant are 60-percent more likely to have a child with autism. "What they do is they observed this finding in women who were obese, and then they studied their children. We have no idea if that's from pregnancy, or if that's something after pregnancy, where the diet in the house has something to do with it," said Dr. Joyce. The study claims the connection has to do with insulin starving a mother's tissues of oxygen. But, Dr. Joyce says it isn't hard and fast evidence, and at this point there isn't a definite link to autism. However, he says making the connection between autism and pregnancy isn't that far off. "It certainly could be something in pregnancy associated with that because we think that children who do have autism are likely born with that condition, it's not something they develop," said Dr. Joyce
Dr. Joyce's best advice? Eat a healthy diet while you're pregnant and don't worry too much. There's no proof that any one food or type of food causes autism.
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